Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s women-centric promises ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are unlikely to be fully replicated nationally, for now, two leaders of the party said.
“As of now the poll promises have been made only keeping the Uttar Pradesh election in mind,” said a Congress leader, requesting anonymity.
Congress has promised women 40% of tickets and a similar quota in jobs if the party comes to power in the state. Priyanka Gandhi has been at the forefront of the attempts to revive the party there. She has pledged three free cooking gas cylinders annually to women, free travel on state government buses as well as scooties and smartphones for girl students.
Priyanka Gandhi also promised monthly ₹10,000 for Asha and Anganwadi workers, who form a critical workforce for health and social welfare in the hinterland, widow pension of ₹1,000 per month, and 75 vocational schools.
Party insiders said the promises are aimed at creating a class-based vote bank for the Congress that lost its base to Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the 1990s.
The Congress has not made such promises so far in another key poll-bound state of Punjab, where it seeks to retain power.
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“There would definitely be some sops from the Congress for women in every state and national polls. But Uttar Pradesh promises were crafted to make them a trademark Priyanka Gandhi move. She is the face of the Congress in this (Uttar Pradesh) state polls. She had to make a big announcement,” said a second leader, requesting anonymity. “In other states, the Congress might need to craft manifestoes differently looking at other political considerations.”
A third insider said the women-centric announcements were part of a strategy in which both Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were involved.
The Congress has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh for over three decades. In the last assembly polls, the Congress bagged just 6.25% of the votes and seven seats in a 403-member House. In the 2019 national election, Congress got just one out of 80 seats and 6.36% votes.
Rahul Gandhi lost his pocket borough of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in 2019 but was elected to Lok Sabha from Kerala’s Wayanad. He had come up with the Nyuntam Aay Yojana scheme for financial aid to the poor ahead of the 2019 elections.